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Hosted VoIP Hides Behind a UC Wrapper

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August 13, 2012

Hosted VoIP Hides Behind a UC Wrapper

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

Businesses using hosted unified communications (UC) solutions are selling themselves short.

Well, those that are not actually using hosted UC solutions.

In a recent blog post, Marty Parker (News - Alert) of UniComm Consulting notes that he’s starting to see hosted VoIP solutions that include basic UC features but really are little more than a hosted VoIP play.

“Don’t be fooled. The term Unified Communications (News - Alert) in most of these hosted VoIP offers may be just window dressing on a business VoIP service or may include a limited selection of UC features, but they are not fully featured UC systems,” he warned.

While reviewing one system, he noticed that the self-provisioning solution seemed suspiciously like a voice-over-IP (VoIP) calling plan that just happened to have basic turnkey PBX (News - Alert) and light UC functionality built in. While video calls and instant messaging were included into the offering, it was basic and limited to others in the same company.

“A similar phenomenon may be growing in the large enterprise market,” he noted. “Dozens of voice network carriers are offering various versions of hosted IP-PBXs in what appears to be a lead-in to their transmission services ranging from MPLS to SIP trunks to T1/E1 TDM services.”

While marketed as a hosted UC solution, they really are hosted VoIP with dumbed-down UC.

“For what appear to be reasons of simplicity, administration and cost, few of these hosted enterprise Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) offerings include a broad range of Unified Communications capabilities,” he noted in the post.

The marketing smoke and mirrors matter because hosted VoIP makes little sense for business customers when compared with the benefits and cost savings of hosted UC as realized through optimize business processes, according to Parker. It also is not staying current with a world that has moved from phone and email to texting, instant messaging with presence, and peer-to-peer voice, video and collaboration.

Instead of purchasing hosted VoIP that bills itself as hosted UC, advised Parker, businesses should either use smartphones instead as a hosted telephony solution, or go directly to a hosted UC offering.

“Smartphones are already hosted telephony services,” he noted. Companies could take advantage of relatively low rates on enterprise cell plans, and in the process, they could use a better basket of UC services that naturally exist on smartphones. All cellular plans include texting email and some form of instant messaging, and smartphones also are excellent at UC through offerings such as Skype Mobile, social networking apps such as Facebook and LinkedIn, and cloud services such as Google (News - Alert) Docs and iCloud.

As with food claims such as “low fat” and “a good source of fiber,” it pays to understand what the terms should mean and what you might be getting instead.

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO West 2012, taking place Oct. 2-5, in Austin, TX.  Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.

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